tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg January 30, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: bill gates and warren buffett are here. gates is the cochair of the bill and melinda gates foundation. their philanthropy focuses on education, poverty, and global health. warren buffett is chairman and ceo of berkshire hathaway. the company is one of the most successful companies of the last five decades. the two have famously been friends for more than 25 years. together, they started the giving pledge in 2010. the initiative encourages the world's richest to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. buffett pledged the bulk of his wealth to the gates foundation in 2006 and has since given more than $24 billion to charities. i am pleased to have both of
them back at this table. welcome. and i have to say, in interest of full disclosure, we just did something like this at columbia university with 1000 students. there is something special about the curiosity and the interest of young people. wanting to know how do they learn from you, wanting to know, if you were starting over, what would you do, wanting to know about values. you do a lot of this. warren: well, about the friendship, we met on july 5, 1991 and hit it off immediately. bill was a little reluctant at first, but he got there. charlie: reluctant to come. warren: yeah, definitely. if it wasn't for his mother, we probably wouldn't know each other. and we've had a good time ever since. and we've cooperated on -- particularly on the giving pledge, but other things as well. and i have to say, everything about it has turned out well. charlie: he sits on your board. warren: he sits on the berkshire board. and we have a lot of fun talking
about a lot of things. but the big thing -- that really came out of one of those discussions really was the giving pledge. that's worked out so much better than i ever anticipated, charlie. i mean, i thought if we got 30, 40 people, you know -- charlie: and how many? warren: i think we are at 156 or something like that. and the people -- and now we've gone beyond the borders of the united states, which i didn't feel would originally happen. and people are learning more -- our members -- about effective philanthropy. they are learning about what doesn't work, learning about how people handle within their families, wealthy families. it's just -- it's worked out so much better than i would have guessed six years ago or seven years ago. charlie: both of you have made the point that, because of success and technology, there are a lot of people with a lot of money who are much younger. bill: yeah. it's a great thing. that these companies are doing so well.
and as a group, i would say, it's a particularly philanthropic group. i didn't give huge gifts until i was 45. some of them in their 30's are already doing amazing things. charlie: why -- if the word is reluctant -- were you reluctant to give earlier than that? bill: i hadn't taken the time to understand where the huge payoffs were, and i was pretty maniacal about microsoft. and only in my late 30's with some encouragement from my wife, melinda, did i start to study it, talk with her about it. we knew we would do it by the time i was 60, but as we were doing that learning, we decided we should accelerate it, and we found a lot of ways that we thought we could have high impact. charlie: and the principle mission call was that all lives are equal. bill: that's right. and a lot of that outside the united states has gone to save lives and have kids grow up to be healthy.
charlie: how did you decide that you would rather give your money to the gates foundation than create some foundation of your own and find people to run it and do whatever you wanted to do? bill: well, my first wife susie and i actually started a foundation over 50 years ago. and we'd talked about it since we were in our 20's. and i always thought i'd be rich. she didn't think i would be. and i said to her, if i compound money at the rate i hope to compound money, there will be really large sums later on, and you're good at giving it away. i'm good at making it. so, i will make it first and you give it away. and she thought that was sort of half a copout and half logical. [laughter] charlie: and probably told you so. warren: absolutely. so, we did something, like i say, we started over 50 years ago. but i really thought that there would be large sums later on and that she was particularly good at empathizing with people, understanding their needs, putting the personal energy into it, and everything. she would be better at giving away money than i would be. and she died in 2004, as you
know. so then i had to rethink what i was going to do. in 2006, i decided that, essentially, our five foundations, the bill and melinda gates foundation being the largest -- looking for people that had similar goals with philanthropy that what i had -- the idea that every life is of equal value is just fundamental to me. you can be lucky -- charlie: and you knew bill would run it well. warren: of course. he had his own money up, which is a big deal. far more than that, i mean, you have two much younger people, very bright, very hard-working. they work much harder at this than most people do in this country in their jobs. and they were on the same track i was on. proven quantity. i mean, everything about it made sense. and it's continued to make sense 10 years later. charlie: let's talk about melinda's influence. you have said to me about susie, your late wife, "i was a mess until i met susie." warren: i think that's understating it. [laughter]
she changed my life. there's no question about that. charlie: how did she change her life? warren: well, i was a very lopsided, not well-adjusted person, who happened to be very good at one thing. and she put me together. i mean, and it wasn't overnight, either. she just had that little sprinkling can -- and finally she saw a few sprouts come up. charlie: was it a coming together of opposites or -- warren: no, no. i wouldn't say that. we had very similar values. we were in sync. in a very big way. but she was way more mature than i was. she was 19 when we got married. i was 21. but i was about 12 emotionally. and she put me together. like i say, it took time, but it changed my life. i mean, i would not have had anything like the life i have had -- charlie: what did charlie munger add? warren: well, charlie munger, my partner of 57 or 58 years. he's extremely wise. he's a wonderful friend. we've been partners.
he is strong-minded. i am strong-minded. we disagree sometimes. we have never had an argument in that whole time and we never will. charlie: never had an argument? warren: never had an argument. that's absolutely true. charlie: you must disagree on things? warren: absolutely, we disagree. charlie: but if you disagree, how do you decide? warren: what he says at the end -- when we disagree, he says, "well, warren, you will end up agreeing with me because you are smart and i'm right." [laughter] warren: you know, where do i attack that from? charlie: and you'll figure out i'm right. warren: often, he's right, i have to say. listen, i respect his opinion enormously whenever he gives it to me. i respect bill's opinion. but it's more fun doing things with partners. i mean, the most fun is obviously a marriage partner. that's the most important relationship. but having a business partner -- if i'd done everything i'd done, it wouldn't have worked out this way. but let's say i got double the results, it's been fun doing it with charlie. charlie: who says no to bill gates?
bill: well, melinda, in this case. warren: i've seen it happen. [laughter] bill: it's great when somebody knows when you might move too fast or be overoptimistic. or if a team comes in and i'm pointing out things we haven't done and maybe they are not as motivated afterwards. they get me to correct that. i have matured a lot, and i give melinda immense credit. she still has work to do, but -- [laughter] but i think i'm getting there. complementary strengths where you share the same goal is a great thing. i had that with paul allen in the early days of microsoft. i had that with steve ballmer as microsoft got going. now, both in my family life and the foundation, it's melinda. charlie: how much time do you spend at microsoft? bill: i'm there about 15% of the time. i get to work just on the r&d
part, brainstorming with people, thinking, ok, how are we going to take this artificial intelligence and make it understand, help you use your time better. it's a very exciting time in software. there are five companies that are in really strong position. microsoft is leading in some really cool stuff. charlie: like what? [laughter] bill: the way that a business takes information about customers, about communication with customers, looking at data -- that mission of really using data and ai and getting the productivity of all those workers up because they see more information -- microsoft is the leader in that. it's a wonderful niche. it's a multi-hundred billion dollar niche that they are strong in. and that they will be innovating along that line more in the next few years than ever in our history.
charlie: you have a passion for artificial intelligence, you do. bill: yeah, it's the ultimate dream when you start working on software is the kind of deep understanding and intelligence that humans have, so it's been the holy grail of when can the computer learn to play games, when can the computer learn to read, when can it understand speech. things like speech and vision have made such progress in recent years. i mean, you know, you've been tracking this and exposing your viewers to some of it. because i can't overstate that even for people in the field it's a pretty magical time. charlie: and its potential is to do what? change everything? bill: well, in the first instance, to be the best assistant ever, to look at all your information, help you know in a few minutes between meetings what you should look at or when you are trying to plan a trip, organize things -- to be a much better assistant than it is today. and then eventually certain
mechanical tasks, like warehouse work or driving, that it would take that over. but for intellectual work, it will just magnify the creativity and make your time more valuable. charlie: is a principal criteria for you understanding the business? warren: yeah. i have to understand the business, and there are lots of businesses i don't understand. some of them may be almost un-understandable and others are just outside my sphere of confidence. but you do have people who have that expertise? warren: there is a lot of overlap. -- itportant thing is not is nice to have a huge circle of competence. as much more important where the limits are of it. you can do very well if you only understand 5% of the businesses
in the country. >> and you'll find plenty of opportunities. and you know that you've got the 5% in that circle. charlie: you made a huge purchase in 2016. precision was bought in 2016. warren: yes. charlie: $37 billion. warren: including $33 billion in cash and the assumption of debt. charlie: is it harder and harder to find an acquisition candidate? warren: sure. we've got to move the needle. if we make $1 billion, we're talking a quarter of 1%. and that's after tax. that's more than a billion and a half, pretax. so it's hard to find things. i would do better percentage if i was working with a much smaller amount of capital. charlie: how do you find them? warren: it's interesting. i get a call. i'll be sitting thinking.
i mean, different things. in terms of buying private businesses, it's because i get a call from a private seller. but occasionally i just decide to act. and we never do anything unfriendly, but in terms of buying whole businesses. charlie: how has knowing bill changed or influenced or enhanced your sense of the way the world works? warren: well, i learn from him. i like to learn from friends in enhanced your sense of the way the world works? i like to learn from all friends. and bill happens to be one of -- a particularly good source. listen, that's the fun of having friends, charlie. i don't think i would -- it would be hard for me to be a friend with anyone that i don't learn something from. they'd probably get bored with me, i'd get bored with them. who is that guy talking about stocks? charlie: and bill, what do you learn from him? bill: an immense amount. he wrote an article for fortune magazine that i read before i met him, about that it's not necessarily a good idea to leave large sums to your children.
that was pretty fundamental. i remember reading that. i was convinced that that was right. it meant, wow, now you have to think of how to give it away. i also remember warren showing me his calendar and -- warren: oh, love that. bill: i had every minute packed. i thought that was the only way you could do things. the fact that he is so careful about his -- you know, he has days -- charlie: that there's nothing on. warren: absolutely. that's the best of 'em. charlie: this is the week of april, of which there are only three entries.
bill: you control your time. and sitting and thinking may be of much higher priority than a normal c.e.o. who there's all this demand and you feel like you need to go and see all these people. it's not a proxy of your seriousness that you filled every minute in your schedule. warren: and people are gonna want your time. that's the only thing you can't buy. i buy anything i want, basically. but i can't buy time. charlie: and so to have time is the most precious thing you can have? warren: it is. i better be careful with it. there's no way i will be able to buy more time. charlie: and living in omaha makes that easier? warren: makes it a lot easier. for 50 whatever years now -- well, for four years, i spent five minutes going each way. now, just imagine if that was a half hour each way. i would know the words to a lot more songs and that's about it. charlie: it adds up, doesn't it?
greater output and that you have to allocate it in a fair way. yeah, that basic framework, we see very much the same. charlie: do both of you believe we can achieve a 4% growth rate? warren: that's pretty high. but -- charlie: just like 2016, i think, the last -- it was like 1.6 or something? warren: charlie, a 2% growth rate, if we have a little less than 1% population growth, which we probably will, in one generation, 25 years -- now people have kids later -- will add 19,000 per capita, family of four, 76,000, to real g.d.p. so there will be -- for a foul of four, on average, there would be 76,000 more stuff per family of four in one generation. i mean, we are going to have more -- the golden goose is going to keep laying more golden eggs. we've got a wonderful system. charlie: but there are certain things that could get in the way of that. warren: 2%?
charlie: you'd do 2%? warren: and 2% will produce miracles. charlie: but 3% is probably possible, isn't it? warren: it could be. but that's -- that would be fabulous. and -- but 2% will produce. 19,000 per capita, that's greater than the existing -- than exists in a whole lot of countries. that will be added. the question is, what will we do with it? charlie: how do you see the future of china? bill: well, they've done a great job on some things. they're not a democracy, so it hangs in the balance of how their political system will evolve. but in terms of raising incomes, getting rid of poverty, improving health, it's an unbelievable miracle that they've embraced, in their own special way, the market since
really 1990. they've done very well. so they're the second biggest economy in the world. they're serious about trade. they're serious about clean energy. they are super important. the most important relationship in the world is the u.s.china relationship. charlie: clearly, because of the two biggest economic powers in the world. bill: right. and they're rising. and we're strong and we're going to stay very strong. charlie: yes. what could make us not stay strong? bill: there's a lot of strength that we built up over decades, the way we do research, our universities, the way that people take risks and that's why our technology companies are still so strong. our biotech companies are still so strong. so the education system is one that we need to go back and look at. you know, and that is one huge source of inequity, because if you get a great education, actually, the outcomes are pretty good. charlie: your experience has told you it's much harder than even you imagine? bill: improving the u.s.
education system. yes, the dropout rate has gone down a bit. so that is great. but the overall reading scores, math scores, and the inequality hasn't budged much in the last 10 years. one of the goals of our foundation is to, working with partners, change that. and so far, it's proven to be one of the tougher ones. we still believe that it's super important and it's promising, if we look at individual schools. we see great things. so we still believe it's achievable. charlie: all the talk about immigration, are we still looking at a situation where some of the best and brightest from overseas come here, get an education, and then go back to india or china or wherever rather than staying here? bill: well, a lot do stay. the most important import the u.s. has ever had, by far, is human talent. it's been to our benefit that a lot of the hardest-working, best and brightest from almost every
country in the world have wanted to come to the u.s. and so if you look at university departments, or, you know, doctors, engineers, people starting up companies, building jobs, it's been a huge strength of ours. we've -- we haven't always made it super easy for that to work. but it has worked very, very well. so the number going back, it's meaningful. but net, we are still a huge beneficiary of human talent. charlie: it used to be said, we ought to staple a green card to every diploma. bill: i believe that. is that a bias, because i'm from the tech industry where we can create multiple jobs around the engineer? instead of having to do that outside the united states. yes. i believe that keeping talent in the country is a great thing. charlie: tell us the story,
because you told me the story, and i didn't -- you think the second most important document in america's history, after the declaration of independence, or perhaps the u.s. constitution or both, you know, is this letter. warren: the letter written by two jewish immigrants. and it doesn't sound like much. but in august of 1939, just before germany moved into poland, leo zolard, whose name is not well-known, born in hungary, but he went to germany. and he worked in germany with albert einstein. and in 1933, i believe both of them left germany. and where do they come? they come to the united states. and they become united states citizens. and they cosign a letter to president roosevelt. it was a large thing to get einstein to sign it, because he carried more weight. that letter you can see on the internet, not even a full page,
says germany is going to -- i'm really paraphrasing -- but germany is going to get a atom bomb and it may work and that we better get to work on one. and the manhattan project came out of that. and who knows what would have happened in world war ii? a, if hitler hadn't been so anti-semitic basically. great scientists and everything. and secondly, if those two hadn't chosen to emigrate to the united states. i mean, the united states had welcomed them. and they may have saved this country. they may have saved this country. charlie: so that germany did not get it and we did? warren: and all those v1's and v2's to england, it's another warhead from the standpoint of the germans. and if we charted three years later -- who knows what would have happened? remarkable men. and they were both immigrants.
charlie: you sent me a note a month ago, and you basically said i'm not worried about the american economy. what i worry about is that somehow, some way we'll make a mistake in terms of the employment of nuclear weapons or some bad character will buy them or steal them, and -- warren: weapons of mass destruction are out there. and the knowledge -- charlie: maybe it's a therapeutic -- warren: it's a tiny, tiny probability, any given day. but there are people who wish to say -- there are people who would like to kill millions of americans. and there's some psychotics, religious fanatics. i mean, the world has a certain number of them, and if they get in the wrong position and they have the knowledge and ability, there are people who would like to kill millions of americans. and the weapons are there to do it. einstein said shortly after the launch of what was then called the atomic bomb, i know not with what weapons world war iii will be fought, but world war iv will be fought with sticks and stones.
that probability exists. thenumber one job of president of the united states is to the extent possible, protect us from weapons of mass destruction. they can exist with individuals but you don't worry too much about that. the intent. but with organizations and maybe even with a couple of nations, and it's the only real cloud on america, over time. we'll solve the economic problems. but that's number one. charlie: you agree? bill: i agree. and it's not just nuclear weapons. charlie: no. bill: the bioterrorism piece is also quite daunting. charlie: what's the bioterrorism piece? bill: well, in an extreme case, somebody would reconstruct, say, a small pox virus and have that spread. and it would not only kill millions, it could potentially
kill billions. warren: there was an op ed piece in the new york times -- i checked with bill, because i don't understand this stuff well enough. he said, yeah, it makes sense, in terms of being feasible. it was basically about reconstituting small pox. there are people in the world, maybe organizations, probably are organizations, that would love the idea of creating a small pox epidemic. charlie: how do you prevent them from doing that? bill: well, you want to have surveillance to catch it as soon as you can. you want to have medical tools where you can create a vaccine and protect people. science is working on the defense part of this at the same time it's making the offense slightly easier. so if we're vigilant, there's a lot of steps we can take to make the risk lower, just like minimizing access to materials,
meaningfully reduces the chance for a nuclear weapon. charlie: there's some who argue that the next war will not be a nuclear war or it may perhaps be not even bioterrorism. it will be a cyber war. bill: that's a third area. and i -- you know, i personally think there's only the three. but that's not much comfort. yes. a modern society depends on electricity and communications and information flow. and if you can, for a substantial period of time, disrupt that, then a lot of systems, including how a hospital organizes itself or how food gets moved around -- charlie: financial institutions. bill: or, yeah, an airline decides what to do, or bank accounts.
you know, what was that bank account supposed to be? and so a lot of experts in government and companies now are spending time thinking about, okay, how do you minimize that? how do you have duplicates, backups? a lot of sophistication going into that. charlie: can the united states risk a trade war with china or mexico? warren: it's not a good idea. trade benefits -- the problem of trade is that the benefits are diffused and invisible. you don't walk in and buy a pair of shoes and you just saved 12% because this was purchased someplace. 320 million people are buying
things cheaper than they would otherwise. but the harmful effects, taking somebody out of a job they've had for 25 years when it's too late to retrain them or anything , they are very specific and terrible. what you want to figure out is a way to keep the societal benefits and take care of the people that really -- they are the roadkill, basically, in this. and there will be roadkill. there is no sense kidding yourself. we start with the textile mill at berkshire. half our workers only spoke portuguese. they worked in hot conditions, loud conditions, and they spend 20 or 25 years on looms. when textiles moved elsewhere, their economic lives were ruined. that's going to happen. that is part of trade. and the benefits, you know, somebody buys whatever textiles we were turning out, handkerchiefs, anything, they may buy them a little cheaper. we've got to keep the trade benefits for everybody, us and them, as a society. it penalizes certain people terribly.
we have to take care of the people who are getting hurt, because we have the resources to do it. charlie: "take care" means? warren: it means that somehow you have to have retraining and all that when that's feasible, but it is infeasible when you only speak portuguese and you are in new bedford and you are 55 years old and you have spent your whole life on a loom. you have to make sure that person has an income that is commensurate. we can do it as a society. we don't want to let the individual case prejudiced against -- trade benefits for everybody. but we also don't want to say because everybody benefits, to -- with this guy. we can afford that, and we should do it. that's how we get a good trade policy. charlie: did you appreciate, bill, the economic insecurity that was out there that donald trump was able to tap into politically? bill: no. i'm not an expert on political sentiment, so i was no better at seeing those trends than other people. charlie: or with brexit?
bill: again, i was surprised by the brexit vote. charlie: and the notion of the populist uprising taking place, in the sense of feeding off of that? bill: well, there's no doubt that younger people and urban people, in terms of their social mores, being seen to benefit relatively more from the new technology and things that are out there, there is somewhat of a divide there. the fact that that would lead to these political results is a bit of a wake-up call to say, ok, the economic and social issues, can we buy improving medicine, improving the education system? can we take what the negative views are there and engage and uplifted their views for the future.
to me, the greatest surprise of all isn't how people voted, but, this general question when you say, will your children be better off than you? i believe their children will be better off, but the fact that they don't feel that way, that the improvements in health, the new products that will be available to them -- charlie: and what technology enables them to do. bill: right. that is a concern. because the people don't see the arrow of time pointing towards greater things. the idea of doubling down on more research, taking the best education, getting that spread around, it creates a sense of malaise, where you don't have the guidance. some things are working. let's do more of those things. ♪
♪ charlie: can america lose, i mean if you look at the day, we have the best military, best economy, best university. do we have the best talent and the best spirit of innovation and creativity? could we lose that? warren: i don't think we will. i think the odds of losing that are very -- charlie: this is what you call "the special sauce." warren: we've got the special sauce, and we've still got the
special sauce. if the rest of the world learns from that special sauce, then it's not a zero-sum game, that is terrific. it won't deprive us. overall, in aggregate, our society will be far richer 10, 20, 30 years ago, if you just take in aggregate, our children will live better. the real question is will we continue to leave lots of people behind? a specialized market system will leave people behind. is 10%s, if somebody below average, their opportunities in this world today have not improved at all from 30 or 40 years ago. the classic situation is, you take the forbes 400 in 1982. number one guy was dan ludwig. he had $2 billion.
now it would be 30 or 40 times that. 30 or 40 times. and this more highly specialized economy, year after year, different from that agrarian economy of 200 years ago, it's going to be more and more people at the very top winning big , big, big time, and it really won't do, absent certain types of programs, it won't do much for the person that doesn't have any special skills for the market. the average person or slightly below average person in terms of particularly market talents is not going to do very well unless we have policies to make sure that they participate in some way, and the guys at the top are going to keep doing better. pardon me? it has to be government. the market system is this traffic cop. it directs resources, it directs brains, and it does a great job of it. it also directs all of the winnings.
it will continuously favor more people at the top. government came in with social security, and government redirects the winnings so it isn't totally the market system that delivers the winnings. i don't want to kill the market system in terms of producing. we want more and more stuff. but there will be more and more people falling further relatively behind, and that's not a good result. we can do better. charlie: i'm sure you saw this. there was a report i think last week that suggested it took eight billionaires, and basically said they have more wealth than the bottom half of the population in the world. warren: in this country, if you took the forbes 400, they have 93 billion dollars in 1982, and they have $2.3 trillion now, 25 times as much as 35 years ago. believe me, that does not strike somebody that's working 40 hours a week and trying to support a
couple of kids on it and finding -- charlie: and their income has remained the same -- warren: they just aren't participating. charlie: or they are threatened by market forces they can't comprehend. warren: the market system pays more and more, just think, say you are a middleweight boxer. in the 1930's, you were limited , you would not even get on the undercard at madison square garden. then comes cable-television and pay-per-view and millions of dollars. at the top, it's terrific. if you are the 45th best middleweight in the country, it is pretty much the same it used to be in the 1930's, so the spread gets wider. frank sinatra is a lot better off with television. it's magnified, but throughout. if you've got a good business idea, you can get it capitalized and become worth billions just on the idea. it's just tougher. whereas, you go back to 1800,
and if you are reasonably strong and willing to work hard, you were worth 90% as much on a farm as the very best guy. the differential it will keep , widening. the market system will push it in that direction. government is there -- charlie: what would you change if you could? warren: i would change the earned income tax credit big time. i am where i am not by myself at all. there are 320 million americans out there. there are a lot of crosses in normandie and everything else. it just, i benefit enormously by having come along when and where i came along, and some people did and some people didn't. there's nothing wrong with a market system that rewards anybody who makes life better for millions of people. but you have to take care of the people who don't fit well into that particular niche. if this country paid off based on athletic ability, i could study eight hours a day and have
all these -- i'm still going to get in the ring and, 10 seconds later, i'm on my back. the talents that get rewarded in the market system are important because they bring us more of the goods and services that the country wants and they make all kinds of improvements in how we live. just incredible. but they leave people behind, and it won't be solved simple by simply by education. charlie: is it the responsibility of government to do something? warren: sure it is. charlie: go ahead. bill: but the government, you know also has to keep business , in shape that it has the incentive to do things right. striking that balance, you know, should be at the heart of political dialogue. warren: you need more golden eggs. you have the ferrous island of the world. the two guys living on it are deciding exactly how they should divide up the palm tree, but it won't make any difference. charlie: so, beyond national
security issues, when you -- what do we have to be fearful of in the future? when we talk about it, some people believe that artificial intelligence offers certain kinds of risk. and you've spoken to that, that it could get out of control. you spoken to that and other people have. what's around the corner that will both benefit us, artificial intelligence is clearly one of those things, too, but also offers a scary world, whether it is gene editing or that kind of -- you think of these things? bill: gene editing is a good one, where the promise of helping with disease, making plants that are more productive, gene editing is playing with the software of life. and yet deciding exactly how to
used, you know, if you could make sure your child was thin or attractive or had certain other characteristics, is that an appropriate use of the technology? so, society -- charlie: who's going to answer that question? warren: i will volunteer for the beta testing on that one. [laughter] charlie: i am serious though who , will decide that? is there a balance between freedom and security? even in terms of getting inside of a phone in which a terrorist might have left future possible terrorist acts? bill: that's another one where, you know, making sure the government isn't completely blind to what goes on, financial transactions communications, , because you trust the appropriate policy for when and how government ability to see information is used.
that's another one where there will be a big debate about, you know, some extremists might say government shouldn't really see anything. others would say government should see everything. i think there's the potential for the best of both worlds approach. charlie: if in fact there is some appropriate procedure? bill: right, and we have had procedures. some people feel that, even so, some things went on, so there are voices out there that would tend towards the, "hey, let's not let government see things." that's another political question. how much do we do gene editing? how much does government have this ability? we need politicians who really draw in great opinions. running a health-care care system and deciding when people are inventing superexpensive treatments, should health care demand so much of the economy
that investing in education and social services and those things, that will be another huge problem that will be debated in the political arena. charlie: who has health care right? who's got health care right in your judgment? bill: the european countries -- charlie: scandinavian or? u.k. spends about half as much as a percentage of gdp as the united states. their system has weighting and things like that, but it is hard to express what a mammoth difference that is. you're talking about almost 9% of gdp difference. that is one out of 11 people who go to work every day are the extra health care activity here in the united states. so, i'm not saying we should system,e adopt their
which is a single-payer system. there are other really good systems that are not single-payer. germany, switzerland, france -- they do quite well. it's one of the few things, access to medical care is one of the few things that we actually do quite a bit worse than other rich countries. there's some like education that a lot of rich countries don't do a very good job. of uniquelysort bad. charlie: health care and education we don't do as well as other people, other industrialized nations? bill: most rich countries don't do that well on education. there are pieces like universities, where we are the best in the world by a lot. so that one, we are more middle of the pack in terms of our achievement. in health care access, you would have to say we look particularly bad. charlie: is there a ticking clock on global warming? bill: yes. fortunately, it's not overnight. the really big negative impacts are in the 30-year to 70-year
timeframe, although it has already increased the chance of drought and storms, and we are seeing that. charlie: you can see a direct causation there? bill: yes. the heating effect is already there. now overlaid with that is the pacific oscillation and normal weather things, so exactly how much of it is the heating signal versus those other things, you can get reasonable disagreement. but there's no doubt that that's there, that global average temperature is rising and that droughts, particularly in places like the middle east or parts of africa, we're already seeing some of that. as you go out in time, it gets a lot worse. changing the energy system, which has a long lead time of invention and deployment, i feel this is one of the most urgent problems. charlie: and is the urgent answer finding alternative sources of energy?
bill: finding that magic three characteristics, reliable, clean, and low-cost. and there are many paths to get there. so, we have to encourage lots of innovators trying different , things. if you could take sun and turn it directly into gasoline, that would be an approach, because can be stored 24 hours a day and even moved around very well. there are approaches that involved taking nuclear to a new level of safety and lower level of cost, so that that would be a key part of the system. we need to fund a lot of innovative ideas, both governments and private sector. charlie: is your life today more intellectually challenging than when you were running microsoft? bill: that's hard to compare. i'm on a steep learning curve in both cases. i love the fact that i get to
meet great people. i get to see things work, see things that fail. for this stage of my life, i'm in a perfect position. i couldn't be happier. charlie: because you have an influence on microsoft? not just being a stockholder. bill: i enjoy going over and sharing my thoughts. i get to keep up-to-date a little bit. and we are using some of those digital enablement things, like to get cheap financial services to poor people all over the to look at medical data. staying up-to-date on the digital piece helps me do my foundation work. charlie: you have said something akin to this, the average person today lives better than john d rockefeller did when he was alive. bill: that is true. charlie: lives better. warren: you live better. in terms of your entertainment choices, your travel choices --
you could not buy them. that's in one lifetime. it's amazing. charlie: what brings you the most satisfaction? you could not buy them. beyond family? warren: well, my greatest satisfaction is just staying in good health. when you are 86, you look at this a little differently. [laughter] charlie: you are in good health? warren: oh, yeah. i enjoy every day. charlie: what is it that you enjoy? warren: i enjoy running berkshire, if you get right down to my psyche. charlie: that's what i want to know. warren: it's been my painting for some 50 years. i get to paint what i want. i don't have to follow what wall street is telling me to do in that quarter or something. i own the brush and i own the canvas, and the canvas is unlimited. it's a pretty nice game. i don't have to associate with anyone who causes my stomach to churn. if i were in politics, i would have to smile at a lot of people i want to hit. charlie: you just don't talk to
them? billwarren: i've got a good dea. i'm hanging onto it. charlie: i often repeated the story. "i spent too much of my life worrying about what people thought of me, then i only care about what i think of them then." warren: my business -- i'm lucky that way. business is so much easier than philanthropy. philanthropy may be a lot more important, but in business you are looking for easy choices, you're looking for people that you like to associate with. you're -- to an extent, i can create the world around me. charlie: are you saying to me that if somebody walking your door and they want you to buy their company and you saw it as a golden -- warren: a golden goose run by a farmer i like? i would say no. charlie: even though you knew -- warren: charlie, marrying for money is probably a bad idea under any circumstances, but if you are already rich, it does not make any sense at all. [laughter]
charlie: but the satisfaction what's the metric of , satisfaction? warren: doing a decent job of running a place that gets harder to do because of the size over time, but it's working with a whole lot of people on interesting -- it's like gene mccarthy said about being a football coach. it's just difficult enough to make it interesting, but it really isn't that hard. [laughter] , well, he had a way of getting people a little irritated sometimes. well, he had a way of getting people irritated sometimes. charlie: what brings you the greatest satisfaction? bill: i think learning things and making breakthroughs. after all the great family stuff, that is a lot of fun. every once in a while, it's something -- if something really makes sense and you can teach people about it share an
, insight, i think that's also very gratifying. when i sit down with melinda to write the annual letter, ok, what can i share that is succinct that might be helpful to people? between my learning and being able to share where i see, oh, this is really simpler than i thought it was, that gives me great satisfaction. warren: i would say there are two, charlie. now at 86, i've seen a lot of people that have gotten older, and i've never seen anybody that is 70 or pagan age who felt good about their children that felt bad about their life. in all my experience -- charlie: you've never seen anybody who felt good about their children that also felt bad about their life. warren: and i've seen plenty of people with lots of money where it hasn't worked out well in the family. charlie: who didn't feel good about their children. warren: or the children didn't feel good about them. whichever way. they failed at the most important teaching job they had
in a personal relationship. sometimes it happens for extraneous reasons, but i really have never met anybody, regardless of their economic circumstances, who felt their life was a failure -- charlie: if their children had become -- their children were doing well. warren: absolutely. they brought them into the world. charlie: and they felt like they had equipped them for the future. thank you, very much. bill gates and warren buffett for the hour. i should mention that on hbo on january 30, there is a film called "becoming warren buffett," in which you will see a remarkable sense of the evolution of a human being and surrounded by family, but also the lessons and the experiences that 86 years have given him. see you next time. ♪